The Enugu State Board of Internal Revenue has sealed off eight banks in the metropolis, for failure to remit about 1Billion Naira tax to the government.
According to Channels, the exercise which started on Monday morning at about 5:30 am affected Access Bank PLC, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Skye Bank, Union Bank, Unity Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank and Sterling Bank, in the metropolis.
The Chairman of the Enugu State Board of Internal Revenue, Mr Emeka Odo, who spoke to newsmen in Enugu, said that the board obtained an order from the state High Court to seal the affected banks.
Mr Odo, said sealing of the banks which is the first phase of the enforcement exercise on the major companies and institutions will remain under lock and key, to ensure that they perform their civic obligations to the state government.
“The government has been encouraging individual taxpayers and tax agents to comply voluntarily by paying their taxes promptly. We have reformed the process of remittances of government revenues to make it easy for banks to pay their taxes like other corporate citizens.
“In the past one year we have written the affected banks severally and held meetings with them on the subject matter but they would rather hold onto government funds illegally.
“The action of the affected banks has been denying the State government of the funds it needs to execute its developmental programmes that would impact positively on the lives of the people.
“The eight banks have a combined branch network of 36 branches in Enugu metropolis and the neighbouring towns of Agbani and Ituku Ozalla.
“We can no longer allow the banks to behave like corporate outlaws, more so, when it is on record that the Withholding Taxes (WHT) which the state government is demanding that Banks remit to its coffer have already been deducted by the banks from the interests that they pay on deposits to their customers.
“The banks have no business holding onto these taxes they collected on behalf of the government.”, he said.
He, however, called on customers of the affected banks not to panic as the banks are expected to take necessary actions, to enable the government to serve them better.
Meanwhile, the Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Paul Lehmann, has expressed the willingness of businesses in his country to explore commercial opportunities in Enugu State.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to Government House, Enugu, the envoy said that Nigeria and Australia both have a longstanding relationship which would be further strengthened through mutually-beneficial economic cooperation, adding that a huge prospect for collaboration exists in the country’s extractive sector.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in his response said his administration has taken steps to protect the interest of potential local and foreign investors.
He, therefore, urged the Australian government to assist the state in developing its agricultural potential, as well as with its bid to provide improved water supply and healthcare for the people.